By | June 1, 2012 69 Comments

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: What would you do and what would you think?

Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following email from a reader whom we’ll call “Maryjane.”

If your husband, whom you found out had affairs all during your marriage, had a child with his secretary, paid her hush money, came onto your mother, grandmother, and another sister, told you that he had an affair with your sister ”¦ during the time frame that you were readying for divorce, would you believe him? Also, this man gambled away most all the money in the marriage on football and golf betting (at a country club that you were the member of, not him, as he ran up bills) and was an alcoholic ”¦

And at the time, that piece of info about your sister, was just a part of the entire hurtful mess and too much to process ”¦ while he was also telling you that he loves you and will never cheat again ”¦ and of course, you don’t believe him. You were just trying to process the insanity of it all. Then you were both at your parents’ house and you walked into the laundry room to find this husband and that sister, whispering and snuggling ”¦

And you got furious. even screamed. and went in a made a big to do about what you had seen to your parents ”¦ and this sister, the manipulator, liar of the century, said that you were crazy and that she didn’t know what you were talking about and pointed out that you were overly emotional as usual.

During the divorce, you were cleaning out your husband’s dresser drawers and found a nude photo of this sister in the bottom of his ‘junk’ drawer ”¦  taken during the time, (junk alright, huh?), this sister had lived with you in another state, for three months, eight years previously. And the nude photo was taken on her bed at her apartment that was a short distance from where you lived.

The divorce was awarded to you on extreme mentally cruelty in a no fault divorce state ”¦ and you kept the part about ‘your sister’ out of the court proceedings to ‘protect your family’ ”¦ as you were embarrassed to have such immoral, incestuous, crassness in your own family, on top of the obvious embarrassment and hurt of the rest of it.

After the divorce and during a time, you were ready to address it ”¦ you told your parents about it ”¦  and they couldn’t/wouldn’t believe it ”¦

You see, this sister was the mother of their ‘grandchildren,’ and you were a divorced woman going through pain and not much fun to be around ”¦ And your parents were all about drinking and partying and you were dealing with issues and things that they didn’t want to ever think about, much less acknowledge happened in their family ”¦

These parents were both alcoholics and lived in denial about most everything that occurred with their children and in their lives ”¦ as in one sister being on drugs and having manic episodes. When you told them that she was doing drugs, they didn’t believe you then either. Until ”¦ Gee! It was proven to be true ”¦ and after many episodes, she is diagnosed as being bipolar.

So, you were the truth teller, the one in pain ”¦ the one who saw and the one who was crushed under affairs, lying, alcoholism ”¦ and instead of comfort and caring ”¦ you got disbelief and alienation ”¦

And you suffered it all while being sober, because you don’t drink or do drugs.

The sister who you were told had an affair with your husband began to excluded you from family ‘get togethers’ ”¦ as in her children’s birthday parties ”¦ and pretty soon, you weren’t invited to anything ”¦ because you represented something that no one wanted to look at. She needed to keep you away, because she knew that you knew the truth ”¦ so you were dangerous to the facade that she tried so hard to create and to keep intact.

You moved to another state and during this time, this sister had another affair with a married man ”¦ actually, she has had many with married men that you knew about. But this one almost caused her to lose her license, because it went against professional ethics ”¦ even as she took this husband of another woman to ‘church’ with her.

Your father finally told you that he knew you were telling the truth ”¦ but what could he do? That it was between you girls ”¦

And you responded, “So you let her exclude me when she was the one who did this to me and all the while you knew the truth?” And he shrugged as he took another drink of wine ”¦

You see he had affairs on your mother all throughout their marriage, and you even overheard one talking on the phone to your father while you were in high school, telling him that she missed and loved him and calling him by name ”¦

He knew that you overheard and said that it was a wrong number ”¦

But of course, it wasn’t. And he eventually told you that he was thinking about leaving your mother because he loved this woman and he had been unhappy in the marriage for years. And as hurt as you felt, you could kind of understand this, because your mother was given a prefrontal lobotomy when you were two years old and she was not much of a companion on many levels. And because of her lack of affect and diminished capacity, you and she did not get along well at all. Because you are artistic, emotional, strong and outgoing and she was weak, dependant and most times, not even present. You can’t even recall having a real conversation with her. But being true to your mother, you tell your dad, that if he leaves her you will never speak to him again ”¦

After all, was she really insane, or was it post partum depression ”¦ or did your Dad drive her crazy by his criticizing and neglect?

You were angry at both your dad and your mother ”¦ and while needing their love, lost respect for them both as your heart broke into a million pieces. Nothing was as it seemed in your family. It was mostly all façade ”¦

Your dad didn’t leave, but continued his womanizing, while giving the ‘image’ of the ‘good family man’ ”¦ Even your friends at high school knew about it and would make snide remarks ”¦ You withdrew into yourself, your room, your friends and ballet to survive. But your family made fun of you for dancing. They made fun of you for everything you liked and did, especially ‘that’ sister.

For about 30 years, you are excluded from most all ‘family things’ led by this sister ”¦ who now wore a mantel of a ‘church woman,’ letting her hair go gray and becoming fatter and uglier by the year, and claimed her ‘best friend’ was a shriveled-up old Bishop ”¦ who hung around your family like some kind of a leech ”¦ Your father befriends this old Bishop and took him on extravagant trips.

And during this time, your father on several occasions told you that there is a part of him that wished he had left your mother when she had her breakdown and taken you with him, and that he wished you were his only child.

That he knew that sister had always treated you with hate and animosity, and had done everything she could to harm your life. He called her a big dumbass broad ”¦ which both made you chuckle and cringe at how cruel, duplicitous and sordid your father was.

After your mother died, your father had affair, after affair, after affair, with women young enough to be his daughters, while he claimed this Bishop was his ‘spiritual advisor.’ All of these women were golddiggers, whorish types, and you told him so. And he got angry at you for telling him the truth ”¦ said that you were always causing problems. You only saw your father on occasion, because you couldn’t stand being around these women, the drinking, and the squandering of money, but your sisters participated in it all. At ‘that’ sister’s son’s wedding you weren’t included, but the current golddigger in your Father’s life was. But then after he realized what the women were, he admonished, “Why didn’t you tell me?” and he dumped them.

Your Dad is dead now ”¦ and in his later years, because of ill health, he stopped so much with the drinking, but after a lifetime of it, was a dry drunk. He would tell you on occasion how much you meant to him, and that you were always right and always told the truth, and you heard back from others that he thought you his most beautiful, brightest, deserving and moral child”¦

Your sisters ignored you, were hateful to you, or many times, actually cruel, especially the one who had an affair with your first husband ”¦ They claimed that they don’t know what’s wrong with you when you got angry, and said you were emotional and always played the victim.

What would you do and what would you think?

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Uhh..I would think they were all crazy, toxic people that I needed to stay the heck away from and that I was lucky to have stayed as sane and normal as I was, and would probably be pretty sad and mad and get in some therapy if not already.

sea storm

If I were you I would be in a lot of pain and feel so overwhelmed by the betrayals, lies, denial and chaos that I would be close to giving up.
If I were you I would stop trying to solve any of it.
If I were you I would be unable to trust my intuition or feelings because those precious, miraculous abilities were denied and minimized in a family that was in the grip of terrible secrets. People get broken in that family. if you have clarity and honesty you are in very dangerous territory there.

I am not you and I would get away from the sickness and destruction as fast as possible and forget about the legend of the powerful, wealthy and wonderful family that is nothing but a sham.

There are people who don’t live the way your family does. I found them volunteering at an Immigration Centre. I started giving to the community in order to connect to some shred of kindness and goodness. It is very hard to rebuild and recreate a family for yourself but the “real family” is too damaged for there to be any healthy love and support.

Your sister had no moral compass, she combined alcohol and poor judgement and slept with your husband. It seems that a lot of things went on and you saw them and felt them in a lonely vantage point with no support and no one to witness with you the morale and psychological depravity of what you were seeing. I am so sorry that happened to you. Reading your story is heartrending.

I think it is remarkable that you were able to see what was going on. This is not a good place for a person to be in especially if the family colludes to cover up the chaos and insanity of their poor choices and alcoholic lifestyle. That sounds so clinical but I say that after years of going to AA and Alcoholics Anonymous.

While reading your story about your husband at first I thought you were talking about MY husband. He was seductive to other women including grandmothers and my friends behind my back and I could not believe it. It was way to painful to believe. Now that he is with another woman who is very wealthy I can see that he is cheating on her, getting pornographic pictures from her daughter, and courting her mother. He convinced his new wife’s mother that he was living with an insane woman who was destroying him and that he needed her help. So she ordered the family to come to his aid. He seduced this old lady. I know it sounds too wild to be true but it is.
He left a photo of the new wife’s daughter in the bottom of a drawer. It left nothing to the imagination.

At that time I did not understand about alcoholism and what it does to people and families. My husband was an alcoholic and a narcissist. Probably worse.

Trust that what you saw and felt was real. Although it may feel unbearable at times believe in yourself. Get away from your sister and the rest of them and try to find people you can depend on who don’t lie ever. You will only get more of the same chaos and denial from your family. You are hurt by being rejected by them but they are doing you a favour. Get away as fast as you can. You may have to bear being lonely until you can find new people to trust but it is the only way to find some ground to stand on.

It must have been very painful to disclose what you wrote. Good for you for getting it out and releasing some of that poison. This is a good place to let it go and get some support.

Many blessings to you.

Sea storm


I would think it sounds a lot like the nonsense that went on in my “perfect family” behind closed doors while I was growing up, all individuals whom were thrust upon me that I in no way chose to have in my life. If I’ve learned anything meaningful in life up to this point in time, it is that the most beautiful thing about becoming an adult is that we now have the ability to choose the people we communicate with and spend time with. I just wish I had learned this lesson as a young adult rather than in my 40s.

Having been raised in an Italian family, I chose to not be brainwashed, as most Italians are, by the concept of “familia”; that at all costs, you remain loyal to your family. Nope, not if they don’t make my life better.

So that now is my rule in life regarding who’s allowed in. You don’t make my life better, you’re not welcome. That goes for acquaintances, friends, in business, AND family. There are many members of my family whom I will never have any contact with again, pretty much the entire paternal side of my bloodline. I have whittled down the people in my life to a cohesive and close-knit group of functional people that communicate properly, support one another, and inject no unnecessary drama into my life.

I lived my life for so many years with no boundaries, allowing in whomever and whatever came along because I just wanted to please everyone and so desperately wanted everyone to just “get along.” That is, simply put, a fairytale.

What my P did for me, the ONLY thing he did for me, which turned out to be invaluable, was quash my naivete in terms of my twisted thinking that there is good in everyone. Not true, sadly. It was a hard pill to swallow, but it was my own stupidity that had caused me up to that point to negate reality.

You see, I knew of Hitler. I knew of Charles Manson. I knew of all sorts of people historically that clearly had not one single iota of “goodness” within them, yet it took one so forcefully invading my life to finally realize that these people not only exist on TV and historically at a distance, but that we are surrounded by them.

So my P unwittingly ended up causing me to do a massive purging in my life of all dysfunction, which included a whole host of family members that I’ve chosen to, just as with the P, instill the “no contact” rule regarding. It’s a sad realization to come to, no doubt. On the other hand, it’s the most liberating decision you can ever make for yourself.

We do not choose our family. It is truly as simple as that. Now I have not only people in my life that are family because we have the same blood running through our veins, but I consider people that have come into my life and provide unconditional love and support to also be my family; my family of choice. They are equally as important to me as the people to whom I am “related.”

Once I realized that people either earn a place in my life or they don’t, no matter who they are, life took on a whole new meaning for me. For the first time, life actually began to have some meaning, whereas before the meaning of MY life was constantly being clouded by other people’s dysfunctions. I began to see life in color for he first time, just as when Dorothy arrived in Oz. Corny, yes, but true.


Oh, and guess what? You don’t have to be understanding and compassionate and forgive everyone’s despicable behavior to have a happy and joyful life yourself. I got so sick and tired of listening to and reading all this nonsense about the necessity to forgive. Hogwash. I believe God backs me up 100 percent in terms of not forgiving the people in my life that I’ve chosen to never forgive; number one on the list, of course, being my ex-nightmare. And does that cause me to drag around a big suitcase of anger and pain every day? To the contrary. Doesn’t being understanding and compassionate and forgiving towards everyone cause you to continue to welcome dysfunctional people into your life? To me it stands to reason that it does. Now I just choose to feel sorry for them from a distance……a very long distance.



I understand how you feel, BELIEVE ME!!! But forgiving doesn’t mean continuing to welcome them in your life. You forgive from a distance and then move on with your life. It’s for you, not for them. Blessings to you!

Ox Drover


This is the family from hell….so what is there about them that would make you want to associate with them?

Sit down and make a list of pros and cons…good and bad things you get from associating with them.

I have also cut off ties with ALL of my family except a few extended cousins and one adopted son. Everyone else in the “family” has shat upon me to one degree or another.

A little over 18 months ago I cut off contact except necessary business dealings with my last biological son because he LIED TO ME AGAIN. I do not hate these people….and I work very hard to “forgive them” (get the bitterness toward them out of my heart) but TRUST???? Never!!!!! Associate with them???? ONLY on business that is a must. They do not have my best interest at heart and it sounds to me like both your sister, your x husband AND your father were/are psychopaths….People like these cause nothing but drama ramas and pain for anyone they associate with and they will keep a special hatred for you.

NO CONTACT is your best bet in order to allow yourself to heal.

You were not the perp, they were. All the “gushy” things your dad said were lies….love bombing we call it. Pretending to love, but still treating you like crap. People who truly love you do not act this way. Liars and other unreliable peple are not going to “reform” and though he is dead, you can still come to emotional reconciliation about him and accept that he never loved anyone except himself.

My mother (egg donor) did not love me, my P sperm donor also didn’t love me either. Not my fault. I deserved to be loved, you deserved to be loved.

We have to I think learn to validate ourselves and the wrongs we have been done.

The healing starts out by us recognizing what THEY ARE, and then working on accepting that, and healing our selves. Good luck and God bless.


Great posts! Thank you.

I’m with you re: the ‘forgiveness’ thing. If someone asks for my forgiveness because they are feeling remorse and guilty, of course I’ll give it. Otherwise, my giving them something that they had no intention of asking for and don’t want is just, in my opinion, selfish and controlling behaviour on my part. God knows I got enough of that from my egg-donour.

I can just see her magnanimously ‘forgiving’ me – publicly for all to see and marvel over, of course – over my ‘wrongs’. And hey, since those wrongs were the ones she made up about me and slandered me with, it makes it so much neater and efficient. That way SHE gets to control the story.

Forgiveness is absolving someone from an incurred debt. Just because the debtee has decided its not worth it to try to collect doesn’t change the fact that the debtor has committed an offence. When someone has committed a wrong, and we condescend to ‘forgiving’ them unilaterally with no admission of guilt or expression of remorse on their part, we’ve just rewarded them for that behaviour and trained them that this is acceptable. This goes against natural law and, in my belief, religious teachings. If we choose to do this, in my opinion, our action makes us partly guilty for the wrongs they’ve just been enabled to continue, and in all likelihood, escalate.


Oxy, we posted over each other. Great post too.


They don’t even have to know we forgave them. You just do it within yourself. It’s not a formal process of them asking and you forgiving them in person, etc. Plus, what true narcissist, psychopath or sociopath is even going to ASK for forgiveness…they don’t care. And if they DO ask, it is only because there is something in it for them. So just forgive them in your own heart and mind and move on 🙂


I think we’re going to have to – hopefully – agree to disagree here.

And I think that survivor3 has previously said that she feels being preached to about the necessity to forgive is, at best, unhelpful. Not to speak for her (she’s obviously more than capable of doing that for herself, and very well too), but to quote her because I profoundly agree with her: “I got so sick and tired of listening to and reading all this nonsense about the necessity to forgive.”



I understand…I’ll shut up 🙂

People feel how they feel…it’s OK…whatever…

Ox Drover

Annie, it isn’t about GIVING THEM the forgiveness it is DOING IT FOR YOURSELF. They don’t even know that you have done it. It is getting the BITTERNESS out of your heart. It is FOR YOU not for them. They could care less if you “forgive” them or not….but you dont’ want to remain BITTER in your heart, I don’t think, what does that gain YOU?

My egg donor tried to cram the “forgiveness=pretending it didn’t happen and restoring trust”—-and to that I say NOOOOOO WAY JOSE!!!! No squishy feeling for them, no trust, just releasing the bitterness, they don’t even deserve that from me…they deserve NOTHING and by releasing the bitterness I am more able to approach the NIRVANA OF INDIFFERENCE. Literally NOT CARING a fig whether they live or die. No glee if they croak it, but no sadness either, just INDIFFERENCE. It is a difficult reach I know, but it can be done. Now I will shut up! LOL


@Oxy: “My mother (egg donor) did not love me, my P sperm donor also didn’t love me either. Not my fault. I deserved to be loved, you deserved to be loved.

We have to I think learn to validate ourselves and the wrongs we have been done.

The healing starts out by us recognizing what THEY ARE, and then working on accepting that, and healing our selves. Good luck and God bless.”

I think this point of Oxy’s is so critical, and seems to be the critical step missing from Maryjane’s story. And, I might add, this goes against most of the standard therapy dogma, which is that you can’t diagnose someone else not in the room and shouldn’t try!

I saw therapist after therapist who told me that. Not ONE of them ever mentioned psychopathy, sociopathy, narcissism, and most especially sadism (my mother is a sadist). I’m so furious over all those lost years of trying to deal with this solely from the perspective of my behaviour. No wonder I felt crazy. Everyone here on LF knows that the only way to find your way out of the madness of living with a severely disordered person is to understand what you’re dealing with. If you’re with people who genuinely love you but are struggling with their own issues, then sticking around and investing in the relationship – but from a safe distance so that you’re not swallowed up by their ‘stuff’ – is one thing. But we all know here that sticking around to try to work things out with a psychopath is, in the words of the documentary “I, Psychopath” “its own kind of madness.”

Re: forgiveness. I have no issue with how anyone feels about forgiveness, and I appreciate what you’re saying Oxy, I know you’re coming from a good place. And I will admit I’m a bit prickly about it.

It’s just that I’ve seen the word ‘forgiveness’ brandished as an admonishment – and even a weapon – against people who are hurting so many times that I’m beginning to view it as another weapon in the path arsenal. One pattern I’ve started to see is that, for some reason for this word far more than any other, the words “this is how I feel” or “this is how I think” rarely precede any discussion of forgiveness – on both sides of the argument. There appears to be an implied “this is how you should feel” in most of the discussions which, bizarrely, contradicts the points many of the posters are trying to make about forgiveness in the first place.



I hear a lot of bad excuses for bad behavior-from them, not you.

Please, try six or eight meetings of Al-Anon. It’s free. (They do pass the hat for donations, but if you don’t have to contribute.)

Try to go as often as possible. Two or three times a week as opposed to once a week or every other week.

Some people do a “90 in 90.” That’s going to a meeting every day for three months.

I went to a meeting six times a week (on the 7th I did laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping) for six months.

I couldn’t get enough. I was a dry sponge that needed what they had to give.

Try different meetings because each has its own personality.

Some people feel more comfortable in smaller meetings because they like the intimacy, some people like large meetings because they like being around a lot of people or being able to stay hidden in a crowd.

Good luck!

Annie, I’ve said everything that you said. Been saying it for years. You are not alone on those points.

Did you ever see what I wrote here on forgiveness?


Thanks G1S.

Yes, I really appreciated that article. In fact, I thought it was so good I sent it to the Oprah show (long story, not relevant to this discussion).

This exchange has helped me to remember that, as soon as I hear anyone use the word “forgiveness”, I need to step back and take a deep breath.

You know, I don’t think I’ve seen any term so contentious as the word ‘forgiveness’. Bizarre that THIS is the word many of choose to ‘get into it’ with each other.


“The healing starts out by us recognizing what THEY ARE, and then working on accepting that, and healing our selves. Good luck and God bless.”

Hi, thank you all for your comments. I think what is hitting me strong is that I am actually and really realizing what I have been dealing with and seeing them for what they are and accepting it. Instead of trying to believe the facade that we are this wonderful successful family and that my Dad was some kind of a ‘great’ man because he was successful on some levels. After his death. a person who had known our family for years asked me.”So is it a good thing or a bad thing that he is gone? I always hated your father and what he did to you girls and your mother. He was an asshole.” That hit me again as to how not liked my father was my many.. at the funeral they went on about what a success he was that he had married the love of his life and they was married for 55 years. How he help so many people and that Bishop was his spiritual mentor. It was hard for me to sit there listing to it. My Dad did have good points but the harm he did was much expecially to me. One of the last things he said to me was. “You are my favorite child. I wish that you had been my only child.” It felt nice hearing that and also strange. I felt sorry for my sisters. THey have always hated me and perhaps, feeling how Dad felt for me was a reason for it. The sister who had the affair with my first husband told me one night while she was drunk “Dad, will always love you the best no matter what I do.” I didn’t think much about it then but as life went on I see the motivation behind her evil. Forgive.. the only way to forgive is to see who they really are and to try and understand what caused their actions and harm. But the truest statement is .. that I now see what they really are. I lived in denial for most all my life. I tried to be sweeter, kinder, more good, look pretty, but caring, respectful, honest, anything to make me feel like something wasn’t ‘wrong’ with me for them to treat me so terribly. When it wasn’t about me .. it is about them. They are immoral, lost, cruel, unhappy, greedy, snaky, slimy people… My Dad was a complete Narcissist and loved no one but himself. His family was his facade of people a good successful man.. while he did exactly as he wanted to.. I do understand whatever happened tomy mother made it rough and he did stay with her and provide well for her. But we all pretended she was ‘normal’ when she wasn’t. The sister who cheats and treats me the worst is a psycholgist and is them most twisted hateful person you will ever meet and she hides behind the mantel of the church maybe she is trying to heal herself.. but it appears false to me. Your reponses are helping me. It is time for me to REALLY see who these people are.. and to cut them out of my life and to stop trying to pretent , to reach out and ot think I will get anything more than the same. They are snakes and will never do anything but bite me.



Wow, a powerful post and you are getting it. I am getting there, too. Why can’t we all realize it is NOT about us and how bad we are…it is about THEM. Everything that they have done and will do that is harmful to us is because they are messed up, they are damaged. It is NOT because we are bad or not pretty enough or smart enough or whatever…it is all about THEM and really nothing about us. Why can’t we all see that? We would all feel so much better if we could just accept that one big part in all that has happened in our lives.

Healings to you Maryjane…you have so much to sort out…it sounds very painful. Your dad really did a number on your family, but I can see how your sister was hurt also because she could see that her dad didn’t really love her…wow, it is all so twisted and seems like everyone was hurt so much by that one man. So sorry 🙁


I have been to Alanon, therapists, psychologists, read books, etc.. all my life… They all helped in some ways.. the best thing that occurred was when I moved to a different state and have been away from them for 25 years. I think the death of my Father will be my final healing. I won’t have to deal with him or inteact with my sisters after things are settled. In his later years my Dad hated to be alone. One of his fears was to be alone. He paid for love and sqaundered money to help people and to keep them around him. He did help some sure.. but he squandered a ton of money and people took advantage of him. If you flattered him, he loved you and if you told him the truth you were attacking him or a bad person. But he told me in his later years, That I always tell the truth and that I am always right. And that meant something tome.. that at least, he did see me. Because I have always tried so hard to be good.. and yes, I married men just like my Dad in many ways, even as I tried so hard to get away from alchoholism, cheaters and that kind of a lifestyle. I think forgiveness occurs when you can see the good and the bad in the person and really see who they are. I need to really see what and who he was and to not glamorize his life. but at the sametime see the talent and good things about him. He was dealing with his demons. He grew up very poor and always felt less than so he lived his life trying to be more than.. bigger than life… he never really dealt with his demons but tried to drown them out by drinking, spending and women..
He hurt me terribly.. my sisters are terrible damaged. And they all hate me and it’s not my fault. I am dealing with my issues with him, my mother and them and they show me no regard.


Congrats to you for starting to put it together, and for having the courage to write out your story and put it up on LF.

If you’re at all like me, once I had my eyes opened to the truth I was living with I immediately felt completely defenseless (which I was at the time, but I’m not now!) It was a WTF? moment. I needed to learn some self-defense skills – and fast. LF helped out a lot.

In case you’re looking for some resources, a book I found extremely helpful is: “In Sheep’s Clothing” by George K. Simon. Particularly chapters 9 & 10. He gives a detailed description of the manipulation techniques used by ‘covert aggressives’ in Chapter 9, and a list of self-defense techniques in Chapter 10. Can’t praise that book enough! Oxy also recommends his newest book “Character Disturbance” (she did a review of it on LF); I’ve bought it but haven’t read it yet.

Also, I’ve just started reading “Children of the Self-Absorbed” by Nina Brown, written for the children of narcissists. One thing I really appreciate is that over half the book is dedicated to Protective and Coping strategies. I’m not far enough into it to give it a rating, but what I’ve read so far I’m really impressed with.

I’m sure others here can give you so many resources you won’t know where to turn next! But posting your story here was surely a great start. Kudos to you!


When someone treats you badly it is about them and not you..

If a man cheats it’s his doing, you didn’t cause it.

If a man drinks, you didn’t cause it.

If you are abused you didn’t cause it.

I always thought it was because of me. I spent my whole life trying to be better and it had nothing to do with me.. I tried to be better and worthy for those who weren’t worthy of me.. they betrayed me on all levels. I even wondered that if it was my fault that my mother had a breakdown after I was born. Did my birth cause it. I think my father tried to blame me too. My family tries to blame me for most everything. My dad also told me that no man would marry me unless it was for his money and once he told me that he wished I was never born and another that I should just kill myself. In ways my father was a monster.


Sorry, we posted over each other.

I can see that you probably don’t need any more self-help book recommendations. But one thing you might be interested in is a series about being the family scapegoat on the ‘Kellevision’ blog:

The Scapegoat as Truth Teller for the Family

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance. – George Bernard Shaw

The Scapegoat in a family system is often the one who tells (or acts out) the truth in the family, the elephant in the living room that no one is talking about. It is this act of truth telling that makes them the target for family rebuke.”

Also, Skylar (one of the LF posters) has a website where she talks about the scapegoat role a lot. Sounds like you were both the scapegoat as well as being lovebombed by your father, as Oxy pointed out. That’s a really tough place to be, and one of the things that sets you up to be the scapegoat in the first place. There is another quote from the above blog that I particularly appreciate:

“How is the Scapegoat chosen? Please pay attention if you are your family’s Scapegoat. This is important. (Again, this process is totally subconscious on the part of the family.) The Scapegoat must have two characteristics in order to be able to perform their function:

1) They must be the strongest.
The Scapegoat has to bear the sins of the entire family. They have to survive, alone, in the “desert” without the comfort or support of the family. So they must be strong in order to carry the burden.

2) They must be the most loving.
The Scapegoat sacrifices themself for the benefit of the family. Again, this is somewhat subconscious, but only some level they know they are doing this. They give up themselves so the family may appear to be “OK”. ”


But I don’t want my family to be snakes. I want them to be like the pretense of it. It is hard to see the cold hard reality. Anything my father gave there was a slam along with it. Here this is yours but… it was sadistic. What happen to him tomake him so twisted? Self preservation.. was that it? preservation of self? Trying to feel okay and in control? As he was sooo controlling. He would even ask me when I say sitting on the floor reading something happy and content. I looked up and he was watching me and he asked “What are you so happy about?” It gave me the creeps .. I was in highschool and I was just happy sitting there .. he seemed envous of internal contentment… when my first husband cheated on me and it was all found out.. My Dad told me I must’ve been a bad wife for him to do that. Whoa! That crushed me .. I went to a psycholgist and he asked me. “Did you ever think that it is not about you that it is about the people in your life?” He knew my whole family and he told me that my father and family were toxic to my soul and for me to get away and stay away and I have sure tried all my life I have tried.


Annie, wow yes, I will check that out.. Thank you.. I am the scapegoat and people are always remarking how strong that I am and loving .. when I feel like I am mush inside.. but I don’t think that I come across like that. I reached out to hug ‘that’ sister during the timeframe of my Dad’s funeral and she refused to hug me in front of the whole family… she felt like a frozen statue and her eyes black and cold as I looked directly into them. I felt I was in the presense of evil.

Ox Drover


Of course you want a loving family….you just don’t have one. You WERE in the presence of evil.

I also want a loving family. I don’t have one either. But I do have a wonderful adopted son, and I have great friends, and they are not large in numbers, but there are people who care about me, who enjoy my company, and do not try to hurt me as “fun”—even if I lived on a desert island totally alone…I would be better off than in the company of the evil ones.

Your therapist is right. But YOU do not have to accept that kind of treatment. When you get tired of being treated this way, stop asking “why do they treat me this way? and ask instead, “Why do I put up with this kind of sheety treatment?”

Ox Drover

Annie, my egg donor CRAMMED HER DEFINITION of “forgiveness” down my throat with a hell fire and damnation chaser of if I didn’t pretend none of it happened then I would go to hell and burn forever….so I can know pretty much I think whence cometh your problems with the word “forgiveness”—-and why others are so triggered by it as well. I was resistant to it as well until I realized that there is another way to achieve the same peace without having to “pretend it never happened”—-because believe me, pretending didn’t work.

Sky talks about cog/dis —-and being forced to “forgive” when we don’t feel it or feel that the person is even sorry….doesn’t mesh up with reality and does cause us cog/dis. It just doesn’t work.

I never did feel “right about it” or that it was what I should have done—only that I had to pretend to do it to quieten down the two headed dog that I had to throw meat to in order to survive—my egg donor. I finally decided to starve the beast to death. No more sacrifices of cutting off pieces of my soul to fling to the beast as the ultimate self sacrifice.


I know I am the scapegoat.. but I forget it too.. I don’t live around them.. I only would see my Dad for a couple of days and maybe one or two of them then be on my way. In the end my Dad confessed much to me and it made me feel better that he did see what had occurred on some level. When I am around them and I get punched, ignored, put done, smirked at.. It feels strange and stupid. .. I am not around that inmy life where I live and if I see or feel it I walk away..But now I am having to be around these sister to settle the estate and being aroung them literally makes me feel physically ill. I will not be around anyone of them alone and never without a friend of mine present. ‘That’ one sister tried to strangle one of my other sisters in the ladies lounge at the country club. I think that she is capable of anything.When I was there I was walking down the back hallway and she passed me and almost pushed me into the wall. She is manipulative and nasty. She manipulates and controls the younger two.. it’s all so pathetic.. I feel sorry for them as much as I feel ill around them. And the longer I have been away from being entertiwned in it.. the stranger it feels when I am.


only that I had to pretend to do it to quieten down the two headed dog that I had to throw meat to in order to survive—my egg donor. I finally decided to starve the beast to death. No more sacrifices of cutting off pieces of my soul to fling to the beast as the ultimate self sacrifice.”

Hoo-boy Oxy, you are ON today girl!!! What a great quote!

“The two-headed dog that I had to throw meat to in order to survive”. What a great description. I’m going to borrow that from you, if you don’t mind.

BTW, I’ve been meaning to ask you something. I seem to remember that you made a comment one time about the difference between being a ‘victim’ and being a ‘volunteer’, but I can’t find it. Would you happen to remember that? I think that would make a great article, btw. (hint, hint)

Maryjane, it certainly sounds like you were in the presence of evil. One of the great advantages of doing this healing work is that at some point you start to ‘get it’ – it becomes second nature. You can see something and immediately be able to spot it without wasting energy questioning it. You develop skills, and then learn to trust your gut. As people on here often say: “I know what I know.”

Ox Drover

Annie, don’t have time to expound on it more right now…there are other people who have though, but basic idea is that being a “victim” is that without any warning say, our husband/wife cheats on us, we catch them we are a VICTIM…they promise not to do it again….they do, and rinse and repeat…the last times we VOLUNTEERED to be cheated on because we kept on giving them chance after chance.

I had a “friend” who stole from me. She denied it of course but there was NO doubt. I took her back as a “friend” and gave her another chance to have access to my stuff…she stole from me again. I VOLUNTEERED for those last times, I wasn’t a victim, I was a volunteer.

That’s a basic look at the concept, but lots of writers have expounded on that concept.


Annie, yes, because of what I have been through I have great radar in life.. now.. but when I am around my family at least, when I was weak and vulnerable at his death.. it was like this evil seeped in and captured me.. I have been having nightmares and rememberances of things that I had forgotten about for years… My therapist said it is usual when the abuser dies to have this occur…
And now that he is dead I feel free on some level too.. free to get my book out.. free to breathe, free to not have to be around these people again.. free to know I am loveable as I am.. and I am not like these people.. I never felt like I belonged or fit in the family that I was born into.. I always felt like an alien from some foreign planet when around them.. no one talks about anything real, and all the drinking.. and lying.. and having to pretend it wasn’t what it was.. i don’t have to pretend any longer..


I have received advice from you in the past (along with skylar, ox, & Donna).

I need to explain something to you, that is happening to my niece, I prefer not to post publicly. This is specific to you because of your own personal experiences, is it ok to post my email here?


In the scapegoat persona.. I am a truth teller. I am too truthful at times. I can’t stand duplicity. When I spot it in people it is really difficult for me to not blurt it out. When I see it, I want to expose it… and this can make people uncomfortable .. not all people can handle the truth. And knowing and seeing the truth is my survival.. It took me alot of work to be able to work through that first marriage and all I saw and lived through in my childhood. My Dad both loved and hated me because I revealed and stood for the truth and I told him the truth…but in the end he told me in his words that I tell the truth and am always right.. but I need to back off revealing it at times.. as to not alienate … know I see what I see but not reveal is.. although that feels false to me and like I am betraying myself.. Betrayal on any level I can not tolerate.. now.. nothing…


I am the scapegoat, the strongest (am not sure about that, the P is pretty strong, but in destructive ways,) and the most loving.

Must have had scapegoat written all over me. Thanks for this info. I hadn’t heard about it before.

Oxy has such a wonderful way of putting things. Love her for that.


Re: Keller’s advice to stop telling the truth in order not to be scapegoated – I’m not entirely in agreement with that particular recommendation, although I think it’s very good advice when you’re just starting out.

I’m with you, that speaking the truth is important. I too am (far!) too truthful at times. But I’m starting to learn that HOW you tell that truth makes the difference between when it’s OK for others to hear (honest others that is) and when we make them uncomfortable. And I’ve recently started to see that sometimes telling the truth – if others aren’t in a place to be able to handle the kinds of truths ours often are – can sometimes be abusive in itself. Doesn’t mean I know what to do with that information – I still pretty much stink at diplomacy (although I’m getting better)!


Hello caringaunt,
I think I remember your earlier posts. If I remember this correctly, your situation was very similar to another person “Rosa” who used to post here, and was similar to my own, was it not?

I’m not sure how much I’d be able to help you, but I’d certainly be willing to listen and give you whatever feedback I can.

Rather than posting your personal e-mail I’d suggest sending an e-mail to Donna mentioning that you’d like to communicate with me, and I’ll do the same.

I know yours is a very difficult situation, and I’m very sorry to read that you (and your niece) still need to be here.

thanks for your honest, heartfelt article. I can relate to that family and especially that sister.

I think a large part of our problem is anthropomorphizing. (did I spell that right?) When I was a kid, I felt that my teddy bear had feelings. Most people, even as adults, will react to cute faces on stuffed animals, or cartoons on TV, like the penguins in “happy feet”. That’s how humans are.

Spaths know this about us and they will manipulate it. It sounds to me that your father was manipulating your emotions for fun. He saw that you weren’t going to be vulnerable to envy so he made you the envied one. At the same time he played your need to love and be loved by giving and taking away.

You took all the things you experienced and accepted them as real: he’s a good man with bad qualities, or a bad man with good qualities. I think you were anthropomorphizing him. You were attributing your own qualities of good and bad to him.

It never occurred to you that he was just an empty shell of a man and that all the good and the bad were just facades to cover his emptiness. The reason it never occurred to you is because you can’t imagine being that empty.

It’s like Sam Vaknin said, “narcissists don’t have friends or enemies, they just have supply.” I would add that they don’t have favorite daughters or least favorites, they only have supply. The roles they assign you are based on how to best elicit the emotions he needs from you, to make you a good supply of drama.

Sure, deep down he was a human being. I know that. But he didn’t. He’s denied his own humanity and disconnected from it. In place of his humanity, were his addictions to drama, power and control.

It won’t help your cog/diss to know these things because it won’t change how you feel. I don’t know if that can be changed, but it is a start to at least see reality.

Jesus tells us that we can know a tree by it’s fruit. I look at my family – it looks like yours – and know what my parents are by the qualities of my spath brother and sister and the disfunction of my older sister and myself.


Skylar, “It never occurred to you that he was just an empty shell of a man and that all the good and the bad were just facades to cover his emptiness. The reason it never occurred to you is because you can’t imagine being that empty.

It’s like Sam Vaknin said, “narcissists don’t have friends or enemies, they just have supply.” I would add that they don’t have favorite daughters or least favorites, they only have supply. The roles they assign you are based on how to best elicit the emotions he needs from you, to make you a good supply of drama.

Sure, deep down he was a human being. I know that. But he didn’t. He’s denied his own humanity and disconnected from it. In place of his humanity, were his addictions to drama, power and control.

It won’t help your cog/diss to know these things because it won’t change how you feel. I don’t know if that can be changed, but it is a start to at least see reality.

Jesus tells us that we can know a tree by it’s fruit. I look at my family ”“ it looks like yours ”“ and know what my parents are by the qualities of my spath brother and sister and the disfunction of my older sister and myself.?

Wow! Yes.. in his later years, iI starting seeing how empty he was and that he needed to continually have a woman , a business deal or something and he did play people… he used them.. I was the pretty one, one was the crazy one, the other one shared in his interest in one thing or another.. but it was all how it reflected back on him.. not how or who we really are as people. My Dad never saw me.. that is why in the end when he was telling me I tell the truth and am always right that I thought wow, he was listening.. I mean he had a Bshsop that he called his bestfriend and he had whore after whore after whore. Of course, the Bishop was around him for donations and trips..Dad bought love.. but he while he was generous with his daughters he was also cruel with the strings attached.. one of his goldidgger girlfriends physically resemeble me.. one of my sisters remarked abou that .. it made me feel ill inside.. one night I was vivisitng and we were watching TV and he told me the only women he thought were beauiful were Angelina Jolie and me.. and he would say that I looked like Mom used to look and actually that wasn’t true except when mom was really young like in her 20’s .. it’s all so sick and sorted and confusing…

He would stare at the TV in the end.. but want someone to be with him. But if you would try to talk to him he would defer to the TV.. I would call him to talk a bit and he could only be on the phone a few minutes..he always had a meeting, places to go or people to call.. it coninually man me feel unimportant.. he put business, friends even waiters before his kids.. I could be having dinner with him.. having not seen him in months and he would talk to the waiter like he was his best friend..
Geez, he was empty and lost and searching.. He hated being alone.. I tried to show him love.. but he rejected it.. so do my sisters.. I am learning to not look for crumbs from people.. to show me love.. I am seeing so clearly the pattern that was imprinted on me. There is so much and so complex. I love all your insights and thoughts.. thank you.


Maryjane, I haven’t read all of the responses to your gut-wrenching article. I am so sorry that you experienced all of this at the hands of someone that you loved.

The reaction(s) of the “family” are as dis-eased as they could be and speaks volumes of the dysfunction that you were raised in.

I hope that you’ve engaged in some good, strong counseling at some point during this supremely difficult healing process. There is so very, very much that we cannot process on our own. We just can’t. It’s too insane for us to wrap our heads around.

Personally, after finding out that everyone in the “family” was aware of the exspath’s activities and choices and, apparently, enabled (and, possibly condoned) his (and, sisters’) behaviors……well, I would divorce the entire lot and view them as dead and gone. “But, they’re FAMILY!” is often the cry of desperation – people who treat other people in this way are not, by any stretch of the imagination, considered “family.” “Family” are those people who support, encourage, nurture, and speak truthfully. These people are not, and never were, “family.”

Brightest healing blessings to you, Maryjane.


I feel like I have spent my whole life trying to heal from these imprints from my family. Yes, I have thought look at how messed up this family is.. this is what the combination of my mother and father created…

I was fortunate to live away from them for the last 25 years. I knew if I didn’t get out of where they were that they would kill me. When I am around them I don’t even feel like me. I feel like I am in some kind of a hell and I do not belong there.

Ox Drover

Maryjane, DNA does not make a “family”—Love does. So if you don’t already have a loving family of people around you…find them and love them, and let them love you.


Thank You Annie, yes, that is me, your memory serves you right. I will request through Donna. Thanks again!


survivor3: Love what you say about if someone doesn’t make your life better, they’re gone. My family of origin is extremely toxic and, although I did no contact for five years, my mother is a bipolar narcissist and hunted me down wherever I went, stopping at nothing to reach me, including talking bad about me to my employers. I would prefer to have no contact with everyone in my biological family. I keep in minimal touch with her just to avert any attempts to invade my life like that. Manic depressives are known for their swings up and down. This want wants to live vicariously through me. Not great. Aside from her, I don’t talk to anyone in the family. If you get involved with any of them, then you are involved with all of them. That’s the nature of the toxicity in the family. No one even knows what a boundary is much less how to respect one.

I say, if your family is toxic, adios. Who needs it?

However, until this past year and a half, after a terrible experience with a complete sociopath boyfriend, I had been letting users and manipulators into my life and my realm. Since breaking with the sociopathic ex, I have done a serious purging of toxic people from my life and realized, belatedly, how many users/socios/psychos/narcissists I had surrounding me.

Now, I can recognize one of them when they are coming. That doesn’t stop them from trying to get to you. That just means you recognize them earlier and steer clear of them, unless you are somehow forced to have some contact with them, like a neighbor or someone at work. Still, you can minimize the contact and keep them from getting to you. Too bad there are so many of them about — neighbors, acquaintances, co-workers, people at the gym.

But it does feel like, once you clean house and start setting the boundaries you should have had much earlier, the Universe tests you by sending a bunch of boundary breakers your way until you really get boundary setting down and apply those boundaries to everyone everywhere no matter who they are. Boundaries are boundaries. Honor yourself. Set the boundary. Keep it firm. Then take a nap. It’s hard work sometimes.

Yeah, and I’m with you on the age thing. I’m in my late 30s. Would have been great to have successfully purged the sociopaths from my life about 20 years ago, but, hey, there’s no time like right now to clean out, clear up and move on. So here’s to better futures, healthy relationships and honoring ourselves first because if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

Luz Blanca

great post Luz,
It does help to hear that I’m not the only one who finds the toxins everywhere. Or they find me. Welcome to LF.


It does seem like they are everywhere these days. I can spot them and as I said was away from my family for the most part but dealing with this has brought it all back to haunt me. The reality of what I lived through amazes me that I did and I wonder how I did. THe hurt that sister inflicts on me everytime that I am in a room with her. She will do something even if it’s only glare. I mean why does she hate me so much? How can hate be so ingrained in a person?


Oh, and I think forgiving isn’t really necessary at all. Letting go of the anger and taking care of yourself, yes. Forgiving them, no. Eliminate them from your life, learn from the experience and move on as best you can. But I’ve found that actively trying to forgive someone only makes me angrier that they did that to me, that I had to suffer it, and that I let them do that to me. Self-blame isn’t healthy either. Awareness and moving on are. That can happen with or without forgiving someone.


Hi luzblanca,
Your mother sounds a lot like mine. My mother also would hunt me down, and slander me everywhere she could find. Mine also lived vicariously through me: for the entire time I was in high school (all my boyfriends and friends loved her and called her ‘Mom’).

But from your description it sounds like there must be more than just bipolar going on. I’ve never heard of bipolar people ‘hunting’ anyone, that sure sounds more like psychopathy or sadism to me.

Regardless, they’re all bad news. Sorry you had to go through that, but glad that you were able to do it relatively early (I didn’t figure this stuff out until my late 40s/early 50s). Since you mentioned hunting, I thought you might be interested in this article:

it’s envy and your father seeded it in a way that only psychopaths know how to do.

My exspath is an expert. People who had never even met me hated me enough to want me dead. WTF? How? I’m not sure but I do know that he tried to seed enmity between his mother and myself before I ever met her. I found myself disliking her for having been so neglectful of my exspath and I blamed her for all his sad shortcomings. right.

After a few years I figured it out, but at first, I had the overwhelming desire to bitch her out. I’m glad I never did.

She had at least 2 more spath sons. One died after fathering various children out of wedlock. Another one, I suspect to be a spath because his wife hated her MIL and because that same wife, one day wrote a crazy email to every single person in the family telling them that her husband had lost it, she had researched exhaustively online and could only conclude that he had Oppositional Defiance Disorder — in his late 30’s? right. I ignored the letter, of course. she seemed crazy. she’s still with him. I think my exspath is living with them now. 🙁

She dated my exspath in grade school BTW.


skylar: thanks. Good to know I’m not the only one who sees the toxics everywhere. I’m not sure if they find us or if there’s just more of them than we think.

maryjane: I understand your pain. I have some incredibly vicious people in my biological family. Your sister is probably extremely jealous and envious of you. Envy makes people act in incredibly aggressive ways. The more they envy you, your success, your personality, your life, etc, the worse they are. Everything your sister does to you is a reflection of her lack of self-esteem, her unhealthiness and her inability to deal with herself and who she really is. It has nothing to do with you at all.

And that’s where the socios/psychos/narcissists get to us: they know that we will take it personally and will want to do something to make things better because we are good, caring, and considerate people. Trust me — it’s still a lesson I’m learning.

Plus, you could wrap around the world at least two times with the number of envious people who are out there. The less contact we have with them, the better off we all are. Ignoring them, when you have to have contact with them, is a challenge, but well worth the effort. The less attention, negative or positive, that we give them, the less power they have over us.

Luz Blanca


Annie: Thanks for the link. My mother’s been a treat, that’s for sure. There’s a whole, long and terribly graphic story that I could go into, but let’s just say that the abuse included sexual abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse and more by her, my father and other family members, as well as a few “trusted” friends. The psychologists have been surprised that my sisters and I didn’t end up with post-traumatic stress disorder from it all.

Luckily, in the past couple of years, I have really been hitting the healing hard. And it’s been a blessing I could only have dreamed of. Somehow that last boyfriend just gave me a big wake-up call and I thought, “No more of this noise. I’m moving on.” It’s a work in process.

Sorry you had to go through some really bad experiences too. I’m glad this site exists and that we can talk about it all here.

Luz Blanca


You know, your post just turned on a lightbulb for me! I’m wondering if there isn’t a pattern here.

Perhaps I’ve read your post wrong, but you say your path seeded hatred and enmity for you – everywhere. My mother also seeded things against me everywhere, but in her case it wasn’t hatred – the picture she painted was that I was somewhere between crazy and can’t-help-herself-deserves-pity-and-contempt-bad. I think she couldn’t use the ‘hatred’ schtick because she couldn’t garner sympathy and strokes for herself with that. But she used the exact same message to everyone. For some reason that’s not what I would expect from a path – don’t know if I’m being naive here. I’d expect some variation in the message; I’d expect that they would need some ‘getting started’ attempts where the message wouldn’t be on point, and also that they’d tailor the message to their audience. But, as far as I could tell, she’d seeded the exact same thing in all kinds of places – including people that were so remotely connected the odds were incredibly long that I’d ever run into them. Boy, she really worked hard at it! Anyway, don’t know if it’s relevant, just that what you said made me wonder, is all.

it is relevant. My spath was so good at it. I’ll explain.
I know he told people that I was a drunken drug addict.
lol! (I can laugh now, kind of)

The pharmacist who dispensed my lunesta (1/2 pill per day), practically attacked me. She viciously accused me of pharmacy shopping, trying to get more than my doctor Rx’d.
WTF? She had problems with my insurance company. She never got the limits correct, but that was not the response a normal person would have.

Later I did find out that he was telling everyone that I was suicidal, so it doesn’t take much to put 2 and 2 together.

But the WAY he would do it, was to make himself the victim. He was someone who CARED TOO MUCH. He loved a selfish abusive woman who would probably commit suicide JUST TO SPITE HIM. How do I know? Because he told me that suicide was a selfish spiteful thing to do. Out of the blue. WTF?

That’s how spaths are. They tell and they project.

So yeah, they can come up with emotional scenarios and nuances that you and I would just NEVER in a lifetime imagine.

Some days, I just can’t even handle knowing what I know.

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